• SOPHIE WARD

LONELINESS AT CHRISTMAS - POSITIVE ATTITUDES

Christmas time is a hard time for many of us. Not to mention if you are juggling illnesses or are alone this Christmas. I will keep it short and sweet but two years ago I thought I was going to have to spend Christmas ALONE , in HOSPITAL 40 miles away from my friends and family. I was in a place that was alien to me. Despite every strength I was struggling to be able to connect, find the positives and was all for giving up ( on life). Last year I launched the Believe-A-Bear campaign, which was an amazing success. This was where friends, family or kind-hearted souls could send a bear to a loved one who was in hospital or struggling at Christmas-time, to give them a friend & someone watching over them at Christmas. The money raised went to my two chosen charities: Invisiyouth & Lyme Disease U.K.



This year we have the amazing students at Kirkham Grammar School coming down to Acresfield for two afternoons - tomorrow 2pm-3.30pm & Wednesday 18th December at the same time. Tomorrow we will be hosting a quiz & the following week chocolate log decorating and 'Play Your Cards Right.' These afternoons are designed to help people struggling with lonliness and Christmas in general, have a fun afternoon sharing their personal stories with the students whilst doing an active activity. We hope that the people who attend these afternoons are able to open up, give advice, share wisdom and their stories through their lives so that the students leave with fresh thoughts, advice and stories that will stay with them through their own lives. 

I know personally I LOVE LISTENING to people's stories, wise words and advice. There have been a number of Sunday afternoons where I have spent a few hours at my Nana and Grandad's soaking up their advice on my 'life problems'. I find it so helpful & I often regret not appreciating their stories and other's earlier in life. Like I say, back in 2014 I fell in love with travelling when I was becoming very poorly. I didn't know who to turn to, or what to do. My family were upset because they could see me going downhill but doctors were telling me I was fine too, my friends were out 'LIVING' their lives to the fullest, being poorly meant you were never invited, it was uncool because you didn't / couldn't take part in what they were doing. I became very lonely, very quickly.

I felt in the dark completely which only lead me into the destructive and dangerous cycle of self-pity, self-blame and feeling the 'victim' in some way. Getting out travelling, I mixed with new people, from different backgrounds, cultures and at different stages in their lives. I realised that WE ALL go through tragic times, we all have our trains derailed and we aren't immune. We don't have to have committed a crime or have been reckless - it is life. When I began figuring this out for myself, I was beginning to feel far more at peace. I had to focus on what I COULD control rather than what I couldn't. I wanted to travel so much more because I wanted to learn more stories. Learn how people hit rock bottom but then fought to achieve success. I am a goal-getter. I thrive of vision, focus, goals and determination. Hearing such HONEST stories because in the media we only see & hear the tragic or highly successful stories a lot of the time & social media is exceptionally good at painting 'the most amazing lifestyles.' We rarely see the 'inbetween', reality was like medicine to me. The struggles, the plan A, B, C and often D not even working out. The road signs being re-worked, new diversions, crashes and road closures. It isn't a straight road or ONE ROAD FOR EVERYONE. It did me the world of good!

We are stuck in a world of comparison which too, is a cycle difficult to break. I want all who come to both afternoons to be open, honest and upfront. Often, we doubt whether our story is (worth telling) well believe me it is. We all have and had times in our lives that were gloomy, dark and wet. We have all mourned. We have all lost. We have all questioned life. We have also all gained. All won. All worked HARD. All put our faces in the sun and focussed on the beauty of life. 

Life is the toughest job any of us will ever take on. There isn't a book to read, a quiz with all the answers given. You learn from stories, experience and your own journey.

I have realised that for myself now. I know so many people look at me and question that I am so poorly, but seem to always be proactive. I may be crazy, but like Monroe said: 'Madness is genius.' I don't want to look back on an empty life wondering what I have done? Waited for a magic pill? Waited for the 'right time.' Blamed all of my problems on the world. Sat indoors, within my four walls and waited, just clock watching because I am angry at fate for the cards I have been dealt. NO WAY.

To me, I have ALREADY WASTED TOO MUCH TIME!  

My passion is helping people because I can see pain beyond the brave faces. I can relate to stories told. I understand the theory of 'lead by example' is key. I know that positivity and smiles are infectious, whilst negativity and frowns are a repellent. I HAD BIG GOALS FOR MY LIFE back before my health declined but it doesn't mean I can't have big goals now. 

People may mistake my work, my circumstance to be 'easy.' Believe me - Sophie NEVER takes the easy road. Even when it is offered. The lads at swimming would try to persuade me to cut out the last two lengths of the swim down so we could all get out quicker and do less. I would always do those two lengths. I wasn't prepared to cheat. It wasn't the cheating & trying to fool my coach. It was the fact I would be cheating MYSELF. I want to be champion, you go above & beyond. You don't try and take short cuts. 

I could easily not support or work for two charities. Fundraiser are difficult to organise and take a LOT of time and effort BUT these charities support SO many people. They are changing and improving lives every day!! Which is beyond rewarding to see. 

I could easily just keep my podcast to me talking but I wanted to have guests on. I wanted to have amazing, empowering people share their stories. YES the wifi and connection can cut out at times and the audio doesn't always sound perfect BUT it is reality. These guests are often across the world. It is far more important for people to listen and come away empowered and be inspired to take on their own dreams than think, 'Wow that was clear to listen to, no hiccups or blips.'

My blog I could filter what I write, only keep it positive or keep it more business focused. BUT I want to share my story. Sometimes what I write can make me emotional. It can bring uncomfortable feelings an emotions back but I wouldn't want to stop that because my struggle will hopefully help other relate and find comfort. 

My social media post and videos, again I could just post them with a simple tagline so people don't question my story. I spend hours working on my social media posts in order to reach so many people and touch people. Giving everyone a dose of reality but also inspiration which some days if difficult to do. 

My travel business I could spend an hour or so hand-picking a few deals to share and book a few nice places for customers but instead I want to really ensure I am offering the BEST deals I can offer, helping put together travel deals to suit everyone's needs, inspiring people to kick start their own businesses and become home-based and do more supplier's training. 

I could turn my phone off and not reply to messages, check in with people, miss calls and not help others because I am having a 'bad day.' My phone is always ON & is always buzzing. I would never make excuses for not being there for someone. 

It isn't easy, it takes hours and hours not just a quick few hours blast from 7am - 10pm I am always on with SOMETHING. The only time I REALLY stop is to eat. I could just do a few hours and then sit dwelling on the pain and negatives. I could give up on life and not want to succeed in providing myself with an income, succeeding in my passion and part-taking in life. It just isn't in my DNA, but judgements and people commenting telling me 'it's easy for me,' gets to me. Yet, deep down I KNOW the hours I put in, the work I put in. It may look to the outside world as if it is easy but I deal with uncontrollable and unpredictable symptoms too. I push through. I honour my commitments & I appreciate people. You treat people as you want to be treated yourself. I want to leave a legacy. Have found purpose within my pain and be remembered as someone, who despite it all always did rise like the sun. 

I hope you take great inspiration and empowerment from this post. Realise we are in control over our own stories and it is worth telling. Don't put give up on your dreams, make excuses or take the easy road. People the BEST PERSON you can be. GO AND GET THEM!

LOVE ALWAYS, 

Sophie

xoxo

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